So I'm at the Mt. Washington Conf Center in Baltimore, on the Johns Hopkins campus. We are enjoying wonderful weather - warm, dry, with a hint of rain that's coming on Friday. Rolling hills and bright green woodland surround the center. High on a hill, we are comfortably isolated from the bustle of Baltimore.
Since I've arrived, and since so much of this week will be about leadership, I've been asking myself if there's a model of female leadership. Do we tend to make women's leadership a binary opposite from male leadership? Is there a particularly 'feminine' style of leadership that can be identified?
So far, the so-called softer skills or qualities (i.e., relationship building, nurturing, etc.) aren't as valuable to most of us as strategy, savviness and having a vision. Interesting. During our discussion of why no one picked 'honesty' as a quality we all value in our leaders we arrived at the conclusion that, in our line of work, honesty isn't practical. Yes, we value integrity but honesty, less so. After all, the point is to get to the YES.
So far, the group I am most aligned with are the women who self-identify themselves as doers: assertive, quick to act, in control, digs into challenges, bottom-line thinkers and not feelings based; we bonded over the fact that we all had little patience for process and what we perceived as dithering, temerity or talking too much. In this group, I think the judicial law clerk is the most intimidating; there's an assessing look in her eye that made me bristle at first but that's just her way.
(We were also the first team to finish the activity and waited impatiently while the Visionaries, Analysts and Nurturers took their time. No judgment! Just sayin'.)
I expected to feel old here but someone said that 40 is the new whatever; there are some women here who are beginning anew. What I love most is that we are all passionate about issues affecting women. We are in orgs that do domestic violence work, education, economic empowerment, tax policy, early child care, reproductive justice, healthcare, AIDS work. About half are mothers; about half are women of color. And two are men! But what connects us? A passion for women's lives.
Ok, I have some policy homework to do. Catch y'all later.